Monday, May 6, 2013

Antoni Stojak is not a Pleb!

After years of blogging and forum posts about my zeal for Kettlebell Sport, I found myself enjoying reading others' diatribes, facebook posts, and comments.   Well, Dammit! Antoni Stojak did it.  The crazy Australian son of a bitch brought me out of my blogging hiatus!

Where did it all begin?

I had the pleasure and honor of coaching Australia's best female lifter Emily Friedel from 2009-2011.   Emily came to the USA in November of 2009 to compete in the WKC Vegas Classic  and attend the WKC Coaching certification in Cincinnati.  On that visit, she told me of a very enthusiastic new lifter named Antoni.  She said she had been helping him, but that she was directing him to me for more formal coaching.  She pointed out very quickly that he was already showing great promise as a lifter.  I was extremely flattered for the referral.   I would be remiss if I didn't mention that on that 2009 trip to the states, Emily Friedel would become Australia's first Master Of Sport in Long Cycle.  In 2010, she returned to the USA where she would become Australia's first Master of Sport in Biathlon. 

At Emily's suggestion, Antoni and I started some mild correspondence. I started providing some video feedback and some training ideas to help him.   I immediately realized what Emily meant when she spoke about his potential.   He had few technical issues, and he demonstrated a natural ability to relax.  There really was no "ego" in his lifting which I must say is rare for a newer lifter.

Fast forward to April 2010.  

Antoni decided to make the long haul across the Pacific to attend our WKC Coach Certification (and a bachelors party in Vegas, and a wedding or something not important or KB related haha).    His first stop on the trip was St. Louis, MO.  That's right.  He came to see his new "Coachy".  Antoni and I had a 4-5 hour evening training session in my garage to fulfill the prerequisite for the WKC Coach certification.  The next day, he and I had a long road trip to Atlanta to attend the course at Scott Shetler's gym.

You might ask yourself how I could endure a 9 hour drive with a Spartan from Manly, Australia?  I don't know.  Maybe it was the fact that he had a picture of a guy wearing a Borat Mankini in his facebook photos?   Maybe it was the fact that Antoni has killer taste in music, i.e. Tool.  Maybe it was kettlebells?  I am guessing it was a fateful combination of all of those things.  I realized on that trip that not only was I a coach with a very promising new student, but I had made a life-long friend.

That has been 3 years ago.   Since that time, Antoni has continued to progress as a lifter and a very good coach in his own right.  Yes, like many of us he has had ups and downs in training.   But, he has never stopped lifting and trying to better himself in this masochistic endeavor we call Kettlebell Sport.

Last weekend, Antoni became the first man in Australia to hit Master of Sport at an IKSFA meet.   In addition to that, he set an Australian record in the Jerk by doing 93 reps with 2-32kg KBs.  I've had some very memorable moments in this sport as a coach and lifter, and this definitely rates as one of the best.  It is a prime display of coaching lineage.  It all started with Valery Fedorenko!

Congratulations Antoni.  I am very proud and grateful that you and I have stuck together over the last few years.  I know that your Master of Sports achievement is just a preview of of many more great things to come!  Remember what I said, nothing can stop a man in his shiny red shoes!